Mbappé centre stage as France beat Russia
Kylian Mbappé scored twice as the Paris Saint-Germain striker played a starring role in France's 3-1 win over 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia in Tuesday's friendly in St. Petersburg.
Tuesday, 27 March, 2018
Krestovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg
Russia 1-3 France
After Friday's 3-2 defeat to Colombia in which he saw his team give away a two-goal lead, France coach Didier Deschamps had asked his side to be more alert.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000-winning captain would not have been too happy then to see Alan Dzagoev's low cross find Fyodor Smolov in space in the box — fortunately, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was not snoozing (15').
Anthony Martial's miscued shot gave Mbappé his first opportunity to test Andrey Lunyov (26') and the Zenit St. Petersburg goalkeeper was again too good for Martial's free-kick (30') before Mbappé opened the scoring: latching onto Paul Pogba's sublime through ball, the PSG man raced clear of the back four to net his second senior international goal.
Pogba struck the second four minutes into the second half, the Manchester United man's free-kick proving much too good for Lunyov as it arrowed into the top corner (49').
With his team two goals up, Deschamps must have been curious to see how they would react. He cannot have been too pleased. Aleksandr Golovin's shot was pushed out by Lloris to Vladimir Granat, who failed to hit the target (57'), and Smolov then pulled one back (68').
This time though, Les Bleus regrouped, and hit back. Blaise Matuidi's run down the left led to him picking out his former PSG team-mate Mbappé, who picked his way through the home defence before slotting the ball between Lunyov's legs (83').
THE PLAYER: Kylian Mbappé
Given the starting role at centre-forward, Mbappé did not disappoint. It was a performance after which you have to remind yourself that he is just 19. There are surely many more such displays to come.
THE STAT: 3
Mbappé now has three France goals in 12 senior internationals, and is the youngest player to score a brace for Les Bleus in the post-war period.